Recaro Child Safety Llc
7. Given the relative small number of ProSport child restraints distributed since introduction in June 2010 (39,181), the effectiveness of any notification campaign regarding this technical noncompliance will be limited. Additionally, any noncompliance notice campaign may result in consumers deciding to discontinue using their ProSport for a period of time, increasing the risk of injury to a higher degree than the risk resulting from the small number of consumers misusing the child restraint by not using the top tether when installing the child restraint with lower LATCH anchors.
This view constitutes an incorrect reading of FMVSS No. 213. FMVSS No. 213 requires that the ProRIDE/Performance RIDE meet FMVSS No. 213's dynamic test requirements when installed as specified by the standard. Recaro recommended (marketed) the ProRIDE/Performance RIDE child restraints for children with masses from 18 kg (40 lb) to 30 kg (65 lb). Under FMVSS No. 213, child restraints sold for children in this mass range are required to meet the standard's performance requirements, including the system integrity requirements, when tested with the six-year-old and weighted six-year-old test dummies. These test dummies represent the children for whom the child restraint is sold, and are used by NHTSA to assess the performance of the child restraint in protecting children intended for the restraint. If a top tether is necessary to meet FMVSS No. 213's 720 millimeter (mm) (28 inch) head excursion requirement, the tether is attached when dynamically testing the CRS with those test dummies. The standard seeks to test CRSs as consumers would use the CRSs in the real world. There is no provision in FMVSS No. 213 that enables manufacturers to exclude themselves from the requirements of the standard by way of “fine print” or other restrictions in instruction manuals.
The ProRIDE/Performance RIDE demonstrated structural integrity failure when the top tether belt separated at the attachment point to the child restraints. The top tether belt separation exhibited a complete separation of a load bearing structural element and therefore does not comply with the requirements set forth in paragraph S5.1.1(a) of FMVSS No. 213. Failure of a child restraint system in this manner increases the likelihood of head injury to the occupant, which is not insignificant or inconsequential to safety.
(C) Recaro states that the “2013 LATCH Manual” published by Safe Ride News Publication “confirms that top tether anchors in vehicles are becoming limited more frequently in the weight to which they can be subjected.” Recaro argues that “a majority of vehicles on the road instruct consumers to use top tether with load limit restrictions that align with RECARO's top tether load limit of 65 pounds minus the 20 pound weight of the child restraint equaling a 45 pound load limit.” Recaro also refers to documents NHTSA placed in Docket No. NHTSA-2011-0176 regarding a 2012 final rule amending FMVSS No. 213 (77 FR 11626, February 27, 2012). Petitioner believes that the documents “give validation to the reasoning by RECARO to limit the use of the top tether.”
Moreover, FMVSS No. 213 does recognize the role that purposeful breakage in child restraint design can have in improving energy absorption performance. However, such breakage is and must be limited by the standard. S5.1.1 permits partial separations that do not result in sharp edges that may contact an occupant. Breakage of the CRS such as that demonstrated by the Recaro child restraints demonstrates a lack of system integrity and is prohibited by S5.1.1, FMVSS No. 213.